UBC Graduate Research

Sustainability and corporate social responsibility in retail real estate Turner, Joel


Of all the sectors within commercial real estate, spaces dedicated to retail are often the ones that have the largest impact on people’s lives. Retail shopping centres have long been the place where people come together and communities are anchored. The setting for this activity had, up until the 1970s, been the iconic ‘Main Street’ with its town squares and other public spaces surrounded by shops. With the mass adoption of the automobile and development of suburban cities came the development of the shopping mall. These large, indoor environments were generally located on the outskirts of towns and only reachable by car. The popularity of these new structures led to a decline of the Main Street concept and, subsequently, a privatization of the local gathering place. As the world is confronted by climate change, high energy costs and economic difficulties, it is clear that the retail shopping centre is going to need to undergo some significant changes in order to stay relevant in a time of rapid change. This paper will explore some of the key issues faced by the owners, operators, tenants and customers of retail real estate establishments and discuss, with examples, how innovation, corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability can be applied.

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Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 Canada